Trevor Bayliss should be applauded for being brave and bold enough to maintain his opinion that Twenty20 internationals should be axed, but that’s not to say he is right. From an England perspective, it’s pretty worrying that the nation’s coach, who gets paid to coach T20, and is more of a specialist in limited-overs cricket, wants to disregard a format internationally that is the future now and may be the only future in a few years’ time. It’s here to not only stay, but dominate the game whether you like it or not.
Sometimes it needs someone in authority to just say what they think but his views differ from vice-captain Jos Buttler, with the England wicket-keeper batsman recently saying that he could see cricket becoming a ‘one-format game’, i.e, just T20s, sooner rather than later.
The timing of Bayliss and an under-performing Buttler’s comments have looked a little out of place after a dismal Trans-Tasman tri-series campaign for England, meaning the Three Lions have lost four of their past six series in the format – and have generally struggled since making the final of the 2016 World Cup in India. In contrast, England have caught up with and overtaken most in their wake but have fallen off the pace under Bayliss in the other two disciplines. That’s probably not surprising given his views and coaching background as a one-day specialist. Perhaps England need a change in direction before he calls time on his stint after the 2019 Ashes series on home soil. Indeed, his comments as well as the man himself give off a soporific vibe.
There is a lot of cricket being played all the time, end of. It’s not been overkill in 20-over internationals but certainly in the format as a whole with leagues the world-over cramming the calendar to boiling point. Bayliss, a man who has previously coached the likes of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League, is happy to just see the format based around domestic leagues.
To do so would only leave the international game behind the curve, and nor would it prevent the many more specialists we are seeing now from earning their crust – if they couldn’t find it with their country, they’d certainly find it elsewhere. The argument that many international matches are pointless or not competitive doesn’t hold up, either. While there are plenty of riches to be made throughout the game now for a select few, cricket is hard graft and toil where careers are on the line for the majority of players when they stride to the crease.
The workload issue has been a long-term problem in cricket, not just T20s, but it is very difficult to change given the onus on making money. As we saw at Eden Park last Friday, watching an uneven contest between bat and ball isn’t actually that fun. Indeed, that day, the novelty of hitting sixes went up in smoke and to be honest, watching on, it wasn’t a fair contest between bat and ball. But 35,000 people were still there to see it in a game where attendances have been dwindling. That’s a tick in the box and off the back of that there is cash to be made through commercial and huge TV-focused revenue drives. The IPL being a case in point.
Many maintain a love affair with Tests and even when the ICC Test Championship is implemented in a couple of years to make for more trophy-laden series, the problem is it probably won’t be enough to swing the massive tide of momentum that serves in the favour of T20s. It may still thrive in England but soon, apart from India and Australia, there may not be many other nations to fill up the opposition tours. It was brilliant to see the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland granted Test status last year, and to see what it meant, but it all seems a bit too late. The need to recognise what is happening and lean towards it is important to keep the great game alive.
In a world where gifs, Instagram stories and how many likes you receive on social media seems to define how popular you are, you can apply it to T20 cricket, with the current and future generation feeding into a fast-food diet of popcorn cricket.
Put it this way, if you’re a talented batter coming through the ranks now, and wish to earn a living and support your family, would you be blocking and playing conservative cricket? No, you’d be doing everything in your power to become a world-beating T20 star. Ultimately, the international stage remains the grandest of them all.
Australia completed a world-record run chase to overhaul New Zealand’s 243 at the Auckland ground last Friday in a match that featured 32 sixes.
They go into Wednesday’s decider as favourites after winning all four of their round robin matches, and Agar said the “amazing” result had further boosted their belief.
“It was great for us to take confidence out of chasing a record total, knowing we can do that,” he said.
“We’ve had the right guys firing at the right times now and I think we’re ready to put together a really good performance again.”
Eden Park more closely resembles a rectangular pitch than traditional cricket oval, and the Australian spinner described the layout as “unique”.
Agar said bowling there was the hardest challenge he had faced in T20 cricket but he had accepted batsmen were going to go after him at the ground.
“If I get hit I’ve got to turn around, keep a smile on my face and try my best with the next ball,” he said, adding that “some people are going to get away to a flyer here”.
The pair took full advantage of the ground’s tiny dimensions to score 105 and 76 respectively last Friday, only for Australia’s batters to produce similar pyrotechnics and claim the win.
The 34-year-old played no part in the opening Twenty20 clash on Sunday and broke down with what he described as a sore left knee before a ball had even been bowled.
The swashbuckling batsman had suffered the injury after the fifth ODI itself but decided to soldier on in the last two matches. He had missed the first three ODIs due to an injury in his index finger which he had suffered during the Test series which South Africa won 2-1.
Following the latest setback, the South Africa selectors have decided to rest the star in a bid to help him regain full fitness ahead of the upcoming Test series against Australia which gets underway next month.
“He suffered a blow to the knee while batting ahead of the fifth ODI, and although he passed a fitness test on Friday, the injury worsened significantly throughout the match,” South Africa’s team manager Mohammed Moosajee stated.
The fresh setback will be a big blow to South Africa’s hopes in the T20I series after already having been on the receiving end of a 5-1 thrashing in the ODIs. India were on top once again on Sunday as they garnered a 28-run win to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.